Evaluating Evan Dietrich-Smith’s Cool Reception on the Free Agent Market

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Evan Dietrich-Smith
Evan Dietrich-Smith ended up back in Green Bay.

When the Packers only offered the original round tender to restricted free agent Evan Dietrich-Smith — as of now, the team’s leading candidate to start at center — I was a little puzzled.

In Dietrich-Smith’s case, “original round” meant any team that wanted to sign him would not have to surrender a draft pick as compensation since Dietrich-Smith was undrafted out of Idaho State.

I thought for sure some other team would take a run at Dietrich-Smith, but I was wrong. He signed his tender for $1.323 million last week and will be in Green Bay for the offseason conditioning program starting Monday.

Is it concerning that the guy slated to start at center for the Packers was unable to even draw a minimal offer from another team?

I know the free-agent market has been dry for both centers and restricted free agents this spring, but you’d think someone would be interested in signing the likely starting center for a Super Bowl contending team with the best quarterback in the league.

Aaron Rodgers and Mike McCarthy have had nothing but praise for Dietrich-Smith since he became the starter last season. I know a teammate and coach will never come right out and say one of their teammates/players is no good, but you can usually read between the lines to get the true sense of how a player is viewed.

Perhaps I’m naive, but I never read anything between the lines that suggested Dietrich-Smith didn’t have the full confidence of his quarterback and coach.

I realize that the Packers aren’t proclaiming Dietrich-Smith to be the next Dermontti Dawson, but jeez, the guy can’t even attract a $1.5 million offer from another team?

I know, I know. I need to calm down. The Packers have been successful developing from within.

If I got a hug every time I said, “Ted Thompson is really going into the season with that guy as his starter?” only to have that guy turn into a productive player, I’d be the most hugged guy in the world.

I’ve always liked Dietrch-Smith. Apparently I like him a lot more than the rest of te NFL.

Yeah, it’s a little puzzling that no other team came after him, but now is his time to prove that he’s more than just a career sixth offensive lineman.

Let’s see if he steps up.

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Adam Czech is a freelance reporter and a Packers fan living in the Twin Cities. Follow Adam on Twitter. Read more of Adam\\\'s writing on the Packers here.

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  • Razer

    I guess that all the other teams like their center better than ours. Hey, I am hoping for EDS to exceed expectations because he is protecting the franchise. Given that we gave up a ton of sacks and didn’t run the ball very well, we have nowhere to go but up.

    I just don’t want to hear the same post game comments from MM that we will “clean up” the mistakes that seem to define the performance of the O-line.

  • Ron LC

    EDS is not the answer at Center. He was better than an old, tired Center that was on the downward slope. Please don’t forget his performance in the playoff game against SF. And to win the SB this year they MUST beat SF.

    They need to get a good young player that can learn fast and be ready to start by the middle of this season. No other team looked at him because he’s really not that good. At best, he’s an acceptable backup for the short-term. Nothing more.

    • Stroh

      So he had one bad game against SF. Like that has never happened before! Everyone said the same about Wells and became a Pro Bowl Center and more than solid Center. It simply takes time to learn to play Center in the NFL, not many come from college step into the NFL and are immediate starters.

      Look at all the centers we’ve had. Only Flanagan was drafted w/ a premium pick and it took him into his 3rd or 4th season to become a starter, partly due to injury.

      Don’t listen to me. Listen to McCarren, he is the one that said Centers are developed and don’t need to be drafted high. I would guess that McCarren know a little more than you or I regarding getting Centers.

      There aren’t any Centers in this draft that are good enogh to beat out EDS w/in a year. Barrett Jones? Please don’t tell me that a Daryn Colledge clone is better than EDS. Frederick is a power player w/ poor movement ability that the Packers require from their Centers. So they won’t consider him. Schwenke might be able to surpass EDS sometime in the ’15 season, certainly not this coming season.

      Jonathan Cooper is a potential Pro Bowl Center if they Packer are able to draft him at #26. But he’s never played Center and it’ll probably 2 full years before he would be sufficient at Center. He’s got a longer learning curve since he’s never played Center.

      Again don’t listen to me. McCarren is the one who said EDS will be fine at Center and they need time to develop. BTW McCarren was like a 12 round choice and became a Pro Bowl Center too.

  • lars1

    It’s not really concerning. There was exactly ONE RFA offer sheet this year—Sanders, and the Steelers easily matched that. When was the last time a RFA was poached? It just doesn’t happen. EDS will be a big upgrade from Saturday and GB will get a versatile OLineman in the draft.

    Thompson’s going to have to pick up his draft game. Too many Sherrod’s, Worthy’s and Mike Neal’s lately.

    • Dobber

      It’s hard to fault TT for guys who suffer by contact injuries. Maybe not so much Mike Neal.

  • Tarynfor12

    I had supported EDS and thought he would be a better option to start last year over Saturday.The Packers decided to go with a elder veteran and that lack of play time hurt EDS.I’m not saying EdS is the guy for years to come but he can certainly be the solid back-up needed for couple of games here and there.

    As much as many like that Jones is versatile and Frederick IMO,is a good Center and wouldn’t be a bad pick,I just feel that Swenke is the guy that will lock down the spot for 8 years(Rodgers time left) and eliminate a spot on the versatility need for the others and having less ‘jack of all trades’ and ‘masters of none’.

    For the homers who want Frederick because of the Wisc connection..have the OL guys from Badgerland lived up to their hype???

    • Stroh

      Frederick is a poor fit for the Packers. I doubt they would even consider him at Center. Frederick is a power player and the Packers need Centers who can move well, that is not Frederick.

    • Dobber

      “For the homers who want Frederick because of the Wisc connection..have the OL guys from Badgerland lived up to their hype???”

      Most UW linemen come out with concerns about movement and ability to play on the pro level–in essence, the lack of sophistication in the Badger offensive scheme (prior to Paul Chryst/Russell Wilson).

      They seem to get the benefit of the doubt because the offense regularly produces in the running game, but when you’re regularly outweighing your defensive opponents by 60 pounds per man, why wouldn’t you?

      • Dobber

        Joe Thomas would be the best example of a player that have held up in recent memory.

    • Oppy

      Mark Tauscher?
      Joe Thomas?

  • Stroh

    Not worried in the least about EDS not getting attention in FA. He was a restricted FA and teams rarely sign RFA. EDS is relatively unproven at Center as yet. Teams can’t sign him as a FA and then say to their fans look at our new Center and see how great he is.

    Teams also don’t sign RFA to often. WHen was the last time a RFA left for another team? They don’t like wasting resources and time negotiation for the players original team.

    Other teams knew EDS was worth more to the Packers, so the Packers would have matched whatever offer he got. And no team was going to give him a ridiculous contract since he is unproven at Center.

  • Big T

    EDS is an average to below average center and that is why nobody wanted him. How many people do you know that want a red headed step child….???

  • GBPDAN

    I too was surprised that no team was interested in EDS. With no draft picks to give up and a very small cap #, I thought that some team looking for interior depth would have gave an offer.

    • Adam Czech

      That’s what I thought too, Dan. He’s not just a center. Guys who can play multiple o-line spots tend to have some value.

  • Brian

    Even though the Packers have a couple big contracts coming up they got around 17-18 million in room right now. More then likely they would match any offer he recieved. The steelers had one of their players claimed this year because they have hardly any cap room.

    • Stroh

      Sanders was offered as a RFA, but didn’t leave. Even w/ Pitts cap issues they still were able to keep their player. Someone wasn’t going to give EDS a 5M per yr contract as a RFA. Packers probably would have matched any offer of 3M, given their situation.

  • Mojo

    “…but you’d think someone would be interested in signing the likely starting center for a Super Bowl contending team with the best quarterback in the league.” – Whether EDS plays for a SB contender or snaps to the leagues best player, should have no basis in how he is viewed around the league. In fact, you could argue those two things are propping-up his value as they hide his deficiencies.

    As far as why he didn’t get a lot of interest – he’s only started around 9 games in his career and he’s currently playing the o-line position considered most replaceable. And from everything I’ve read about him from those who study his actual performance, to this point in his career, he’s just a guy.

    • Adam Czech

      Very true, Mojo. The Super Bowl/QB effect could be inflating his value in the eyes of people like me.

      Still, though, I thought someone would take a run at him. Even if it was an NFC North team to just drive his price up a little and take away some of the Packes cap space in the middle of the CM3/ARod negotiations.

      • Dobber

        I think this is another example of a calculated risk on the part of TT that appears to have paid off. He let the market dictate the value for the player rather than having to jump early, make a guess, and overcommit.

        I think we all knew that, within reason, TT had to have EDS back (and so did the rest of the league) as, in his absence, C becomes an even bigger ??? than it would be WITH EDS. I also believe that TT would not have bid EDS up very far, given that they had little invested in him. In all, EDS coming back, even as a pedestrian C, means that the Packers can focus on other team needs rather than drafting a C in a high round to play right away (or commit more $$$ for a journeyman).

      • Dobber

        “Still, though, I thought someone would take a run at him. Even if it was an NFC North team to just drive his price up a little and take away some of the Packes cap space in the middle of the CM3/ARod negotiations.”

        The only team I could see doing this would be the Bears, if only because their OL is always a mess and “winning” a bidding war over EDS might help their overall depth. If you’re going to bid up a player, you’ve got to be ready to sign the guy if the other team blinks.

  • Oppy

    Perhaps the league at large looked at the tender (or lack thereof) that the Packers placed on EDS and thought, “The Packers know something we don’t about this kid… Stay away.”

    After all, I think it’s fair to say it might be a perception around the league that Ted Thompson over-values his players.. If that were the case, what message would it send when you place absolutely -no- protection on what figures to be your starting center entering the new season?

    • Adam Czech

      In my view, the message would be “Oh Jesus. We need every last penny to sign our best offensive and defensive player to extensions this summer. I hope nobody notices that we just placed the original tender on the guy who we think will be a good starting center in this league.”

      But, other GMs must have seen it your way and not mine.

    • Stroh

      If it was a message to the rest of the league, the Packers wouldn’t have had to even offer him a tender! They would have re-signed him on the vets minimum for about 1/2 the $$ of the tender.

      • Oppy

        Pretty sure not designating a tender on a player entering restricted free agency basically just makes the player a defacto free agent, in which case the Packers would have given up their right of first refusal altogether.

  • SDPackfan

    He could not beat out Jeff Saturday last season.

    My gosh I hope EDS turns out to be a better player than he looks to be but I think people in GB sometimes overrate our own players especially our Olineman.

    • Oppy

      Jeff Saturday was benched in favor of EDS, so that’s kinda like beating out Jeff Saturday, wouldn’t you say?

  • http://chuckhughesic.com/ Edda Empie

    It is rare to find somone who really knows their stuff. Good job.